Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Recovery After Martial Arts Training

A martial artist trains, then recovers, then trains and recovers and so on and so on. Training, to many martial artists is given thought, attention and a high level of respect. This is needed so one can learn, adapt and constantly improve ones fighting abilities. So why is recovery not given the same respect?

Aikidoka, judoka, BJJ fighters and many other grapplers take a lot of physical punishment when training. Muay thai fighters, kickboxers and karate ka also punish their bodies and muscles through constant punching, kicking and receiving blows. For this reason, recovery should be a top concern.

Recovery is needed so as ones body can work as efficiently and effectively as possible. If muscles are sore, ligaments are tender and joints hurt then one will not be able to train to their maximum and their fighting technique will suffer.

Some of the best recovery methods which many martial artists use include,

Take time off – This is the number one way to recover from workouts and although obvious to some, many people still do not do it. A lot of people will take maybe a day of from training, but if your muscles are in pain whenever you try and throw a punch or lift your leg for a kick then you simply have not rested enough. Take time off from training until you feel strong again.

A hot bath – A hot bath is a great way to relax your muscles. When using this method of recovery keep a water bottle handy and sip some every few minutes to keep getting in some liquid. Sweating occurs during a hot bath and its best to keep hydrated. Another tip which you may find useful is to keep a cool damp towel around your neck. Some people complain after a hot bath of dizziness or headaches and this may help.

A cold bath – As much as a hot bath is good for recovery after training so is a cold bath. It helps reduce the inflammation occurred during training to the muscle, joint and ligaments. This is always best to do straight after a workout if possible.

Calm stretches – Stretching to a couple of inches or so below your maximum is a great way to treat muscles that have been beaten through hard workouts. Don’t hold each stretch for more than 20 seconds as this type of stretching is only to help you recover a bit quicker. A good time to perform these type of stretches is straight away after a hot bath, once your muscles are well warmed.

Quality diet – Many martial artists, especially those who are trying to cut a certain amount of weight before a fight/competition tend to restrict the calories they consume. Whilst this is needed to lose weight, many people cut back too much and coupled with the fact they burn up extra calories through training, this can seriously increase the time needed to recover between workouts. Make sure you are eating enough quality food each day.

Water – A lot of people do not drink enough water. When training hard one must keep well hydrated. Muscle is made up of mostly water and without it you simply are not doing your muscles any favours. Keep hydrated always!

These are old fashioned rules that have been around for many years when concerned with recovery from training. Recovery is a very much neglected area to many martial artists and it is a shame. If one has recovered fully between workouts, they will notice that they will be able to train harder with extra strength and speed during workouts. Treat recovery with respect and you will be training for many years to come.

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Des said...

Excellent article, thanks for sharing.

One method I recommend, particularly for muscular stiffness and soreness, is contrast hydrotherapy.

Inspired by your post, I posted an article I'd previously written on this topic on the Essential Karate blog at

You're also spot on with the water thing. Unfortunately much of society is chronically dehydrated. Hydration is important for recovery.

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